Lake Tahoe is a fantastic vacation destination. There’s casinos, live shows, a beautiful lake waiting for you to jet-ski and kayak. The beaches fill up quickly in the summer, and the winter is a skier’s paradise.
However, we find Lake Tahoe to be so beautiful and picture-perfect in every season that we would rather enjoy it quietly. The casinos, outdoor adventures, and shopping are really fun, but at the end of the day we love the feeling of being secluded in the woods, smelling the pine trees, and wondering if we’ll see a bear wandering by.
We’d wager that the location that best captures this feeling in Lake Tahoe was the northwestern shore. If you are on I-80, you will find the small town of Targhee nestled in the Sierra Nevada mountains about a half hour west of Reno. Targhee has groceries, some hotels, a brewery or two, and is a great pit-stop before heading to the lake. While you’re there, also check out Donner Lake and the Donner Memorial Museum, because the scenery is only matched by the amount of the area’s history.
Once you venture south from Truckee towards Lake Tahoe, you’ll take a beautiful road through Squaw Valley, where the 1960 Winter Olympics were held. There’s plenty to see but it still feels quiet and serene.
You will eventually emerge in Tahoe City, which again is a very small town along the lake. There are numerous lodging options and restaurants, which range from budget-friendly to country-club. We personally chose to head south and got right outside of this small city, where we found the cozy and pet-friendly Tahoma Lodge.
Read more on cozy cabin stays in Lake Tahoe, including the Tahoma Lodge.
Heading north will also get you to small, quaint lodging. Either option is along the lake and so much more laid-back than the high energy areas of South Lake Tahoe. You can also find a few beaches that allow on-leash dogs.
Another great thing about staying near the northwestern coast of Lake Tahoe is that you can absolutely reach all of the excitement during your stay, no matter the season. Because this area is so popular, it is kept well-plowed during the winter. The drive around the edge of the lake to South Lake Tahoe takes about an hour, but there is plenty to see along the way. You can go the southern route, and view the majestic Emerald Bay. If you chose to do the northern route, you will go past Kings Beach and Crystal Bay. Our personal suggestion is to make a day of doing the entire loop around the lake.